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Transportation bill passes state House with little PW support

- Six out of eight members representing Prince William County in the House of Delegates voted against the transportation plan that passed the lower chamber on a 60 to 40 vote Friday. The state Senate still must approve it before Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) can sign it into law.

Transportation bill passes state House with little PW support

The state House of Delegates on Friday voted 60 to 40 to pass the transportation conference committee report designed to eliminate the gas tax while raising other taxes.
Only two out of eight members from the Prince William County delegation voted for the bill marked "HB 2313". The other six, all Republicans, voted against it.
State House Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-50th) of Manassas joined Dels. Bob Marshall (R-13th), Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st), Rich Anderson (R-51st), Tim Hugo (R-40th) and David Ramadan (R-87th) in opposing the bill decried as a net tax increase by well-known conservatives such as state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.
Cuccinelli became the default Republican nominee for governor after no other Republican filed to run against him at the upcoming state convention.
Miller broke with his party's leadership on the vote by supporting Cuccinelli's position. House Speaker Bill Howell (R) and Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66th) both voted in favor of the bill endorsed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and his transportation secretary Sean Connaughton, the former Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
Dels. Luke Torian (D-52nd) and Mark Dudenhefer (R-2nd) also supported the bill. They both represent the southeastern-most parts of Prince William County along the Stafford County border.
Those precincts also happen to be among the most Democratic-leaning in the county too. Only seven Democratic members of the entire House voted against the bill.
"This plan will close the $500 million transportation shortfall, inject a total of $3.5 billion into our roads and highways to reduce traffic congestion in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and accomplishes these goals in a responsible manner that minimizes the financial impact on Virginian's wallets," said Cox in a statement.
Lingamfelter, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, cited the plan's reliance on "very large tax increases" as reason for his opposition.
"This plan relies on increased taxes for home sellers. With a housing market that is gasping for life, we do not need to make homes sellers fork over more of the limited cash they get from their home sale to government," said Lingamfelter in his own statement. "It also increases taxes on automobile purchases at a time when that industry is doing all it can to keep its head above water."
Ramadan echoed Lingamfelter's concerns prior to the vote.
"This plan increases taxes at the pump for cars and trucks; it increases the tax on car sales by 40%; it increases the sales tax to 6%; it increases fees on alternative fuel vehicles; the compromise plan implements a high grantor tax on houses; it implements a 3% transient occupancy tax; and it depends on internet taxes that will be implemented by Washington," said Ramadan in a press release, adding that all of that happens "without a single dollar cut in spending or an offset of another tax."
The sales tax actually would rise from 5 percent to 5.3 percent, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The 17.5-cent gas tax would also be eliminated in favor of increased taxes on wholesale gas and fuel distributors.
Next, the bill must pass the state Senate without any amendments before the end of Saturday night in order to meet the General Assembly's regular session deadline.
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